Brett Favre travels to Soldier Field on Sunday for the last time (hopefully) in his long, overly dramatic, drawn-out career. I'll be glad when the Bears no longer have to face him. He has caused me more pain than any other opposing player. That 99-yard touchdown pass to Robert Brooks on Monday Night Football still haunts me. I've enjoyed the success the Bears have had against Favre in recent years, but I'm just tired of seeing his mug and listening to his awe-shucks, faux-Southern charm. This guy's been a major dink since his early days up here in Wisconsin. I badly want the Bears and Julius Peppers to dominate on Sunday.
Vikings vs. Bears Preview
The Vikings are an underachieving team that could be on the verge of total chaos. The players, media, and every Minnesotan from Garrison Keillor to Prince can't stand Brad Childress. Their quarterback, the aforementioned Brett Favre, is mired in a controversy that is oddly disappearing from the media's attention. They traded a third round pick to rent Randy Moss for about 12 minutes, and, in case that wasn't enough, their lease is up on their home stadium after next year and there is very little political will for the state to pony up cash for a new stadium. The Vikings ship set sail this season with a Super Bowl destination. By season's end, they may be without their diminutive captain and their aging Nordic warrior while the vessel drifts rudderless towards the smoggy skies of Southern California. Poor Vikings fans.
That being said, this team still scares the bloody hell out of me. Their pass rush has been pretty anemic so far this season, but they broke out against the Cardinals last week with six sacks. The Bears offensive line has demonstrated over and over again that it will be their achilles' heal this year. The good news is the that the Bears have mostly struggled against teams that blitz (ignoring the Giants game), but Vikings defensive coordinator (and former Bear) Leslie Frazier runs a scheme similar to the Bears. They try to get pressure with their front four without blitzing too much. However, I worry that Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Ray Edwards are simply more talented than our offensive line. Jay Cutler may be running for his life once again. Mike Martz will need to have a game plan similar to the one that he developed against the Bills. Lots of runs, lots of short passes, minimal seven-step drops. Cutler will need to get the ball out quickly to his backs and tight ends. Sadly, I don't think the Bears can manage to gain large chunks running the ball, but even short gains will prevent turnovers and chew up the clock.
The Vikings, though, can run the ball. Adrian Peterson is a horse. He has rushed for 857 yards this year (which is more than double Forte's 401 yards), and he's averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He runs with amazing strength and power, which can be a problem for the Bears smallish front seven. The Bears defense has been close to dominant against the run this year, but they haven't faced Peterson yet. They will need to commit eight guys to stopping him, which will open up even more holes in the Bears secondary. This game could get ugly quickly if Peterson is finding holes and Favre can play-action pass.
The Vikings are top 10 in three of the four team yardage stats categories (Offensive Rush Yards, Defensive Passing Yards against, Defensive Rushing Yards against). The Bears are third against the run, but they don't rank higher than 19th in the other three categories. Best case scenario is that the Bears play turnover free football, get a special teams touchdown, and force two to three turnovers on defense (calling Julius Peppers). If that happens, I can see the Bears winning a close game. Yet, I just don't see it going that way. I think the Bears will get behind early, Martz will call wing-and-a-prayer plays, and Cutler will oblige him with some picks due to constant pressure from Allen and company. I desperately want to be wrong because a 6-3 team is in control. A 5-4 team with three straight home losses is a staggering drunk pretending not to be.
Vikings 24, Bears 20